1977 W.W. II film / THU 3-20-14 / Nickname for Anaheim's Angel Stadium / Prominent feminist blog / Young brothers' band / Where Maria Captain have their first kiss in Sound of Music

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Constructor: Victor Barocas

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging

THEME: Get bent! — Some clues are followed by bracketed "Get ___!" exclamations, which refer to things that are supposed to happen to the letter string "GET" in those answers:

Theme answers:
  • STOREAGETANKS (24A: Oil containers ["Get down!"])
  • PATEGURNER (18A: Gripping read ["Get back!"])
  • COLLEGETOWNS (50A: Amherst and Orono, for two ["Get up!"])
  • ABRIDOOFAR (61A: 1977 W.W. II film ["Get lost!"])
Word of the Day: JEZEBEL (45D: Prominent feminist blog) —
Jezebel is a blog aimed at women's interests, under the tagline "Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing." It is one of several blogs owned by Gawker Media. (wikipedia)
• • •

Clonk. This one went clonk, for me. Seems like an idea that would've struck the constructor as brilliant, but it wasn't that satisfying for me as a solver. I've never been a fan of puzzles with nonsense answers like ABRIDOOFAR and PATEGURNER in the grid. There's definitely something clever about the concept—I didn't grasp it fully until after I was done, or until the very end, perhaps, when I was nailing PATEGURNER into place. But somehow the weirdness of bracketed exclamations and the weirdness of the nonsense answers made the whole thing feel fussy. I had the theme, or at least part of the theme, quite early, at STORAGETANKS, and after I got COLLEGETOWNS, I thought the exclamations were just related to the direction the whole answer took at some point. Then I got to ABRIDOOFAR, wrote in ABRIDGETOO, and tried to figure out where the FAR went. Then I saw GET and TEG mirroring each other in the center-west, and instead of picking up the "GET" thing, I thought the equivalent three-letter answers on the east side of the grid would mirror each other, i.e. SAG and … GAS. Only GAS ended up being IT'S … flash-forward and I finished with very little conception of what was really going on. Now I get it (get it?). But I didn't enjoy it. I did enjoy the clue on JEZEBEL, though (45D: Prominent feminist blog). 21st century! I also enjoyed that I got CONGOLESE off just the -ESE. I remember staring at Brazzaville's atlas page recently, thinking, "This place is big … why haven't I heard of this place?" Brazzaville has over a million inhabitants, but what makes it look truly big on a satellite map is its directly-across-the-Congo proximity to Kinshasa, DR Congo,  a city of over 9 million.

Theme isn't dense and fill isn't great, which is never a nice combination. 42 black squares should've made for a squeaky clean grid. But no. Other priorities, I guess. Holy crap … [counting] … 80 words?? That's over the max by two. That means the grid Really should've been AFORE- and DREAR- and BIGA- and STER-free. Disappointing.

If you want to see some good puzzles (great puzzles, actually), check out the 2013 Orca Award-winners over at Diary of a Crossword Fiend.

Time for sleep.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:10 AM  

pate gurner doesn't work.
It should have been page burner
[get along]
The get lost entry works, but this
doesn't seem to work imo.

Mike in DC 12:13 AM  

Liked it a lot. Thought it was medium to easy medium. Maybe that's because it takes me twice as long as Rex to solve the puzzle, so when there's a gimmick like this I have more time to figure it out.

Might have been fun to have [Get past!] as the bonus clue for misbeGOTten or inGOT or arGOT, or [Get even!] for eGbErT, the king of Wessex.

jae 12:13 AM  

Easy-medium again for me.  Got the theme early so it was a very smooth solve.  Major erasure was g- suIT off the IT for ORBIT.  Never heard of JEZEBEL the blog, but given that this and Amy's are the only ones I follow, I'm not surprised.   CARLE was also a WOE. 

Cute fun Thurs. with not a lot of dreck which is unusual for a pangram. Liked it way more than Rex did.

retired_chemist 12:46 AM  

Challenging. I really didn't understand the theme until I had solved as best I could. Finished with two errors: SEat for 47D (I like it better than SEED regardless). The crosses: ORATa was a whiskey tango foxtrot and A BRI tOO FAR made as little sense as the other theme answers. After I cheated I saw what was happening. OK, clever but not enjoyable.

AliasZ 1:00 AM  

What a tortured piece of work this was. Did not do it for me at all. There were a few bright moments here and there, but overall I found it more a chore than a joy.

There was no special thrill in figuring out the various directions GET took, perhaps due to the clumsy double-cluing. Also, entries turning corners always result in unchecked squares. In this one we had four.

For ABRID[GET]OOFAR I think [Get out!] would have been a better clue. [Get lost!] gave me the sense that the letters G, E & T would somehow be lost in random slots and in random order within the long entry.

I normally enjoy trick puzzles, but this one was half past clever. A terrific construction feat that fell flat at this solver's level.

UNTO Friday!

John Child 1:07 AM  

I liked this a lot. Like OFL a two-stage grasping of the theme, directions and then "oh, it's always G E T that are affected." Pretty easy, but I clung to puss to go with [boots] for too long, so finished only a little faster than normal Thursday. I'm with @Mike in DC that a slow solve gives more time to reflect, and with @retired_chemist for SEat at first.

John Child 1:13 AM  

@AliasZ I thought that unchecked squares had no crosses, as is common in cryptics. You use the term for the two Gs and two Ts that are crossed but have only one clue, yes? Is that the correct meaning of unchecked?

wreck 1:13 AM  

Struggled to no end. I ferreted out the theme when I got to Orono and Amherst, but still had trouble figuring out the other tricks. I gave up after over an hour when I was tired of fighting it. After seeing the answers, it WAS clever, but I did not have the patience to spend anymore time on it. I think I would have played with it longer if it was a Sunday puzzle.

Unknown 1:26 AM  

"Clockwork Orange"'s Alex was an antagonist not a protagonist.

Moly Shu 1:39 AM  

I liked it. Got the gimmick at Amherst and Orono, knew what the answer was, just couldn't make it fit until MAYOR and SKUNK showed me TOWNS. Then changed STORAGEcasks to TANKS and took off from there. Had Ames for ACDC, a bit of a sticking point. I like BIGA, always wish it were clued regarding Aqueduct race track. WRITLARGE was new to me, like that one tons, hope I remember it.

Steve J 1:41 AM  

Easy here, despite not getting that GET had anything to do with the theme. Theme answers fell in order as they appear from top to bottom, largely because I was able to pretty much just fill things in from top to bottom (with CONOGOLESE being the first thing I filled; being a map geek pays off).

Slowed down only at A BRID OO FAR, initially also filling in A BRIDGE TOO and thinking that FAR was dropped off because it was, well, too far out there to fit the answer. Erased that, stared at that empty rectangle in the lower center, then pieced it together. Finished the puzzle, got the complete sign, sat staring at the same sector and still didn't get what was going on. Had to come here to figure out what the theme was.

Knowing what the theme was now, I appreciate it a bit more. But it's definitely not the most elegant thing I've seen.

Rest of the puzzle was workmanlike. Nothing stood out particularly good (other than JEZEBEL) or bad for me.

George Barany 1:43 AM  

Full disclosure: Victor Barocas is a good friend, professional colleague, and sometime crossword collaborator. IMHO, Victor's constructions are marked by a combination of theme brilliance and rigor with respect to the fill, and the present one fits squarely into that mold.

As Jim Horne correctly points out at xwordinfo.com, this is not an 80-worder. Two of the answer words "bend" so the true count is 76 words.

RnRGhost57 2:07 AM  

Thanks @George Barany. Good to get a pro's perspective.

Jisvan 2:20 AM  

I liked it! It was rolling out so smooth and easy for a Thursday in the NW that I knew something was wrong. Then I hit the first impossible word and skipped ahead to the NE until that too got tangled...was it a rebus? Page turner was where I got it, then I went to the other jumbles and sorted them out by literally following the clues. I was surprised when I hit submit and it went! I'm still a newby, but I thought this was fresh and fun!

Carola 2:34 AM  

Add me to the "liked it" and "easy-medium" columns. Creative theme, fun to solve. I saw what the puzzle was GETting at with PATEGURNER, so the other themers came quickly. Lots to like besides - JEZEBEL (which I find on the SALTIER side), CONGOLESE, WRIT LARGE, EXTORTS.... A neat looking grid, too.

Structurewise, I thought it was interesting that STORAGE TANKS and COLLEGE TOWNS mirror each on the left side of the puzzle, while PATEGURNER and ABRIDOOFAR mirror each other diagonally.

For me, this play with GET was a lot more successful than the ARMS excision exercise on Tueday.

JTHurst 5:23 AM  

I hit all around the theme answers and got bridge too far but did not know how to apply the 'gets'. Someone please tell me what I am supposed to do or think when I see a - clue.

The whole puzzle was redeemed when I saw Buster Brown's dog. Hi, I'm Buster Brown and this is my dog Tige. He lives in a shoe and so do I. Of course it was sponsored by Brown Shoe Company out of St. Louis. And I would wait for my favorite spot when Andy Devine would yell to the audience, "Where's Froggy?"

He would then turn to the grandfather clock and say, "Plunk your magic twanger Froggy." And this ugly frog gremlin would appear and in a deep, raspy voice would yell, "Hi ya Kids, Hi ya!"

And all of us prepubuscent children would just howl with laughter. Afterwards I would ask my friend are you plunking your magic twanger? And we would laugh again. Sometimes all you needed to do was say in a deep voice Hi ya Jim, Hi ya.

Now Devil and Questinia take it easy, this was childhood in the 50s.

Danp 5:35 AM  

This puzzle had me spinning like Angus Young (AC/DC) in his schoolboy outfit. If not for the theme construction, it was very easy, including the theme answers themselves. The one answer that still has me wondering is ABRIDOOFAR (Get lost). Is it just a coincidence that the letters GET are nearby and disconnected? It might have been better to just lose the GET or clue it Get Bent. That said, I liked this puzzle a lot more than Rex.

Loren Muse Smith 5:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 6:00 AM  

Rex - "I remember staring at Brazzaville's atlas page recently, thinking, "This place is big … why haven't I heard of this place?" Now I wish I could say something like that. You and @Steve J and maps. Our atlases are packed away, but I kind of like looking at maps, too. If you want to amuse yourself, look at a detailed map of West Virginia sometime and study some of the town names. We have a town named Looneyville, and my parents have a neighbor from there. Says its post office is always busy 'cause everyone wants that postmark.

Beelick Knob

My deleted part for 21A started out as "too" since FAR was firmly in place. This was after I sorted out my "g-suit"/ORBIT problem.
I saw the trick early, and it helped with the solve, for sure. I'm with @Mike in DC, @Jisvan, @Caroloa, and Danp – enjoyed it.

For me, it would have been truly elegant, though, to have had EGAP TURNER and have left off the FAR for the movie.

@jae – ever struggle with spelling TIGE? I never know if it's Tyke, Tike, Tyge. . .

Man, I was all over that GAZEBO and first kiss clue. Sigh.

@JTHurst, as I was reading about "plunk your magic twanger," I was thinking, "Oh boy. . . he's gonna be baaaccck again today!" I agree - @Questinia could bring a smile there, too.

"Tasteless stuff." Hmm. I've considered and reconsidered this and fully concur. Yet I always enjoy my miso soup bites more when I've trapped a square of tofu in the chopsticks. It feels victorious, somehow, chewing this tasteless morsel. (Note that although I'm competent with chopsticks, after I clumsily launched a piece of pumpkin across the table at the home where I was staying, they were kind enough switch me, this large-bodied, strong-toothed Westerner, to waribashi -shorter, disposable wooden ones, much more user-friendly -than those beautifully-decorated, three-foot long pointy lacquered ones that everyone else got to use, even the little kids whose Japanese sentences beat the crap out of my Japanese sentences. This is the culinary equivalent of stripping someone of his long, narrow SKIs and making him wear those short, little wide beginner SKIs. Been there, too. (And let's not even mention my being pulled aside at the ACPT as I was helping myself to a free, skinny pencil and being given instead one of those robust, cheerfully-fat first grade ones.)

Hey, Victor – did you ORATE at your ORALS? (I've met Dr. Barocas twice now and have to tell you that he's the nicest guy.) For my masters ORALS, I was scared to death and just wanted to be IGNOREd. But that would have been awkward.

I don't think I've ever had SQUAB, but it sure feels fancy. "I'll have the SQUAB with the TOFU-infused KALE. Can you put the LEAKs on the side? Oh, and raw, please."

Quick check back yesterday - Someone emailed me about a poster's "less/fewer" deal. Did you know that "less" has been being used where pedants want "fewer" for a very long time by very established writers? (Same on the whole "none" always taking a singular verb issue.) I don't have time to look up the article I read, but the message I got as I was reading it was – calm the (as @retired_chemist might say) foxtrot uniform charlie kilo down about this stuff. I felt silly, then, remembering all the times I saw the grocery signs: "15 items or less" and felt smugly superior. Also – if we're correcting grammar/spelling here, someone should have called me out yesterday.

Thanks, Victor. With my obsession with crossworld, I guess some would tell me to C'EST LA ["Get a life!"]

Fax Paladin 6:03 AM  

I really disliked PATEGURNER, feeling that an answer that would have truly fit the theme would have had TEG naturally. But then I suppose ABRIDOOFAR would be out by that logic as well.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

@Brett Chappell Alex is the protagonist or main character the story centers around in A Clockwork Orange whether he antagonizes others or not.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

I'm a fairly novice constructor and this was the first Thursday that I completed without help of any kind. So for that reason alone I liked it a lot.

But besides that, I thought it was a fun solve the whole way through.

Unknown 8:07 AM  

Got it. No googles, no errors, but indeed one Squaw who knew SQUAB, which forced BEt in cross with PAgetURNER, which helped solve the theme trickery.

jberg 8:08 AM  

As ALEX would say, this one was horrorshow. I somehow got PATEGURNER when none of the crosses would work, and STORAGE TANKS gave me there rest. My only problems were Lisp before LEAK (I thought for a moment they called themselves CONGOLian to distinguish themselves from the larger Congo across the river), and SheaR before SEVER- -- and trying to fit in the BRIDonheRiverKwai (the movie that taught me how to whistle).

@Loren, I not only ORATEd at my ORALS, but was in ORBIT when I somehow passed.

Honestly, I had so much fun figuring out the theme that I didn't even notice the pangram until about 5 minutes ago.

Unknown 8:13 AM  

Liked it, probably because I felt smart about getting the theme at PATEGURNER. The being said, the theme answers are pretty hideous to look at, clever though they may be. Shout out to Rex - Only reason I got CARLE is because I remembered him writing something about it in the blog a while back.

Mohair Sam 8:13 AM  

Battled this one for half an hour before finally getting the theme at PATEGURNER, then the puzzle fell quickly. GAZEBO was a gimme for my wife, I've never seen the flick. gsuIT before ORBIT stalled us until we got the theme and COLLEGETOWNS became obvious.

Nice change of pace, a clever and enjoyable Thursday puzzle.

DrXword 8:33 AM  

Really enjoyed it. Very clever and good fill. The themed clue answers (prior to the GET tricks) are all very real , reasonable things. The trick is easy as soon as you note the presence of "-" clues. PAGE TURNER, er, PATEGURNER, gave it away for me. I thought this was a well done, very clever, Thursday puzzle.

Phil 8:49 AM  

Under two for me...hours that is. Couldn't do a an under 4 minute puzzle if i knew half the answers.

Anyway lento was first to go in but later erased before crossing pit it back.
Why? It's music or foreign and doesn't seem a fair clue to ignore that

Unknown 9:28 AM  

I liked it. I got the GET theme early, and relied on it to solve the puzzle in a fast (for me, for Thursday) time.

dk 9:31 AM  

πŸŒ•πŸŒ•πŸŒ• (3 Moons) Buster Browns were some of the shoes worn by my sisters. They were not orthos but they were clunky…. kinda like parts of this puzzle.

Alas I feel in love with the grid so was blinded to the minor puzzle faults… like theme clues that meander about the page like a very hungry caterpillar.

Major misstep was gsuit instead of ORBIT,,,, but then I remember the dog's name and had some inkling of the trick.

Glimmerglass 9:36 AM  

Pretty much what I've come to expect (perhaps, watch out for) on a Thursday. I liked the theme. Even though PATEGURNER was really ugly, I liked ABRIDOOFAR (Alias Z is correct -- "Get out" would have been a better clue). What's wrong with AFORE, DREAR, BIG A, and -STER? They're all perfectly good words (okay one's a partial) fairly clued. Not junk at all. I thought the fill was interesting and (mostly) fresh. Don't remember much about Sound of Music (except I didn't like it), so I didn't know where that kiss was, but it was definitely inferable from crosses.

Arlene 9:37 AM  

This was a unique experience for me - thought I'd never get through it. And yet, the letters kept coming, and then I was done! No Googles, no stopping!

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

When a puzzle theme is compelled to rely on nonsene words like pategurner to work, the constructor and editor both need a good swift kick in the ass.

Blue Stater 9:52 AM  

And the craziness has no end....

Can anyone seriously maintain that this is a crossword puzzle?

lawprof 9:54 AM  

This one played in the easy/medium range for me because PATEGURNER was firmly in place (from the crosses) early on. So it was clear that "get" was somehow woven into the theme answers.

I still, after all these years, spell Buster Brown's dog's name as TyGE until the cross (here ORBIT) sets me straight. I'm sure it'll happen again...and again...and again.

Thanks @JTHurst for the trip down memory lane. Funny how some of those lines stick with you. I remember Buster's intro a bit differently: "I'm Buster Brown; I live in a shoe. This is my dog, Tige; he lives there too." But we can agree on "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy" (with emphasis on the ascending last syllable). I'm gonna try to work that into a conversation today. Being a kid in the 50's was a lot easier than today (think Grand Theft Auto and its progeny).

With March Madness now upon us, SEED was a slam dunk.

Sir Hillary 9:59 AM  

Pretty easy, and an admirable effort by Victor Barocas, but the theme didn't quite hang together for me. The "up" and "down" entries were both really cool (both eliciting smiles as I filled them in). The "back" and "lost" entries...not so much.

I didn't find the fill too DREAR, probably because quality medium/long entries usually win me over. CONGOLESE, WRITLARGE, ADRENAL, JEZEBEL, EXTORTS -- nice work there.

I actually find TOFU tasty, although what I am probably tasting are the seasonings around it. I find pOrn tasteless, so that's what went there for a bit.

Only other writeover was SEat at 47D. Only as I am writing this post am I realizing that SEED refers to a tournament draw. Shame on me for being so LENTO on that, especially with March Madness kicking into gear today. (FWIW, I have Michigan State beating Michigan in the final).

Z 9:59 AM  

I found some of the early "criticism" a little frustrating. To be clear, "I didn't get it and gave up" is not a criticism of the puzzle, nor is "It took me a long time to figure it out."

Another fine puzzle with very little dreck. AFORE, DREAR, And BIG A, are hardly poor fill. I'll grant you that ET AL is a little tired and -STER isn't so great, but that's it. The SE is theme free, so that is a demerit, but one really has to stretch to criticize this effort.

JEZEBEL - 300,000 page views a day makes it "prominent" and cross-worthy? 300,000 is one tenth of one percent of the US population. Perhaps the center-left readership of the NYT would be more familiar with this blog (I don't read it but got it quickly) but I fear the clue is more in the "trivial trivia" category than the "fresh modern" one.

Milford 10:03 AM  

I found this enjoyable for a Thursday, enough of a trick to make it interesting. I can appreciate what others say about the cluing, and I agree with @Fax Paladin that perhaps the PATE GURNER could have been replaced with a "real" phrase that had "TEG" naturally.

I will say that I appreciate that the "GET" in each instance was split between two words.

Gotta love a clever clue for AC/DC. My lab Malcolm is sitting right next to me.

I also liked the TOFU next to the UFOS.

I briefly lived in Madrid, and would often see ads for BMWS (the motorcycles) - in Spanish it's pronounced Bey-Emme-Doble Vey. I always liked the way that sounded.

@JTHurst - I believe that a "-" in a clue is an indication that the answer is continuation of another clue, as is the case with STORA(G)-GE(T)-TANKS. It can indicate that the clue is snaking around a corner (as was the case here), or may be part of the answer above or adjacent (sometimes there is a black square between). There are probably other uses, too.

mac 10:07 AM  

Now I'm feeling dumb that I never thought of GSuit...

I made myself figure out the theme/trick early (thank you Dan Feyer) and that probably caused me to like the puzzle much more than many. Had to come here to find out about the pangram, though.

Favorite cross: Jezebel/gazebo. I had visuals of The King and I on the brain, but they also had some romantic moments in gazebo-like areas.

@loren: I would NEVER consider living in a town called Hicksville!;-)

John V 10:09 AM  

Liked it a lot. New Thursday look as Will promised. Thanks, Victor.

South last to fall, but got it.

FWIW, TOFU is best used as a construction material, esp to tape wallboard. Tasteless? Well, yah!

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

@ Z
I don't understand your "frustration." My own lack of finishing is not a criticism of the puzzle (I did say it was clever) -- it was an admission of my own shortcomings.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:10 AM  

Seemed a fine puzzle to me; I enjoyed it.

I caught on to the gimmick fairly early, and was ready to rate the puzzle Easy-Medium (after writing over SEAT/SEED), but then ran aground in the SE. Didn't know the JEZEBEL blog, and had the Captain and Maria kissing in the GARDEN before the GAZEBO; even after I cleared that up I briefly had you getting (53D) an EVOTE for your party (someday that may make a lot of sense.) But worked it all out in the end.

Unknown 10:20 AM  

JEZEBEL is a good example of the sort of thing I liked about this puzzle. I'd never heard of it either, but once the J fell into place, it's a very logical guess that is quickly confirmed by the Z in GAZEBO.

chefbea 10:24 AM  

Figured out some of the themes but didn't get the GET thing 'til I came here. Also had g-suit at first.

Maybe I'll make some squab tapas today!!

pmdm 10:31 AM  

The theme answers to me had the feel of answers you might find in a cryptic crossword (or whatever you call that type of wordplay crossword). Occasionally the Sunday Magazine specialty puzzle consists of a crossword puzzle with all the vowels removed or some other gimmick that causes to grid to be filled with gibberish. The difference is that all of the entries of those puzzles are equally gibberish, while this puzzle only has theme related gibberish.

The theme made me recall a Saturday puzzle early on in Shortrz's tenure that I've mentioned before. The answer to the revealer clue was "noiffsandsorbuts" except that every string consisting of "if" "and" and "but was removed from the grid, making the revealer clue "nofssors". There was a puzzle that contain much gibberish.

Variety is the spice of life (or so it is said) and while many of you were offended by today's gibberish, I have the opinion that quirky challenges are what a Thursday puzzle is all about. And I though today's theme was better than most since it had not one but two components (a directional component, and the "get" component). Recognizing the first was pretty simple in part due to the "-" clues, but I would say recognizing the second was not so obvious.

So I felt the theme was inventive, appropriately challenging, and well integrated into the puzzle.

Z 10:36 AM  

@wreck - My initial reaction to the early comments was colored by the blog, so I mistook what you wrote as a criticism of the puzzle. That's on me. Thanks for pointing it out.

I should add that @BlueStater's criticism, while I disagree, is a fair point in my opinion. Shortz has taken the crossword form in many different directions and if you want just a straight crossword, it has to be just a little frustrating. Tuesday was an extreme example of Shortz pushing the form and it seemed to me that a whole heck of a lot of people were temporarily in @BlueStater's camp.

Nancy 10:41 AM  

Loved this puzzle! Very perplexing until, suddenly, it wasn't. Like Bob K., I was almost done in by SEAT for SEED and ENOTE for EVOTE. But eventually, it all came together. And my favorite clue was "Get lost." Good, clever job.

Steve J 10:52 AM  

@JTHurst: Clues marked - will vary by puzzle in terms of their intent, but in general, they'll usually indicate that you're continuing something from an adjacent part of the puzzle, or you need to reference something else nearby, such as if you're mirroring or manipulating an adjacent answer to get the new one.

@Loren: SQUAB may sound fancy, but it's merely pigeon. Proto-marketing at work.

John Child 10:54 AM  

Khorosho puzzle, as my droog Alex might say. Clockwork Orange had a lots of violence but also a great deal of cultural and word play. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadsat

WA 11:01 AM  

An annoying puzzle. Tapas are not Spanish starters. In Spain, tapas are usually eaten between 5 to 7 PM as a separate light meal, accompanied by wine, and are often social and familial events for which there is no equivalency in the US.

Blue Stater 11:06 AM  

A fair comment from @Z (10:36 a.m.). My complaint isn't necessarily with what I will call Thursdayism -- provided it is limited to Thursdays, or to the special puzzles on Sunday (are they still there in the dead-trees edition?). My objection is to the spread of Thursdayism to every day of the week, even including Sunday, and with that spread, an increase in verbal stretchers and factual errors. I hate to sound like an old goat (even though I am one), but for me the Maleska days really were the good old days.

mathguy 11:13 AM  

I wonder why lawprof and I want TYGE instead of TIGE. I've never seen a Buster Brown commercial (did they play on the West coast -- I'm old enough?) so I learned the name from my years of doing crosswords.

Liked the puzzle quite a lot. The theme would have made this a Friday if the fill were more challenging

AliasZ 11:21 AM  

@John Child,

Yes, any square for which there is only one clue is "unchecked," regardless whether it's surrounded by blocks or other letters. There is no way to check if that letter is correct with the help of another clue.

Not being one to waste an opportunity, here is a bridge that is not too far: Knightsbridge March from the London Suite by Eric COATeS (1886-1957).

Jisvan 11:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtO 11:45 AM  

Challenging but satisfying tricky Thursday. Gsuit before ORBIT a problem and JEZEBEL a woe.

My compliments to those who found it "easy". No way, Jose!

Jisvan 11:52 AM  

@JT, thanks for explaining the "Hi ya kids, hi ya" quote. It's one of those things I've heard people of a slightly older generation occasionally say in a weird voice, but never got the reference. The things you learn here! Not to mention names of West Virginia towns. I once did a bicycle tour through Tennessee and West Virginia, a beautiful, hilly ride on less travelled roads. Some of these little hamlets were so backwoods that it seemed like we were time-travelers, and I'm sure we looked like it in our neon Lycra and foam helmets (I think it was 1987). We stopped at a gas station/general store/diner in WV and the lunch special was a grilled cheese sandwich, RC Cola and a Moon Pie, all for 1.25! (Even then that was really cheap, and we were really hungry.) Thanks for the memories, Muse.

C.J. from Green Bay 11:58 AM  

A fun and very acrobatic theme. Easy to work with, if one remains flexible. Agree with others, that the word count issue here is a bit argumentative.

Another noteworthy accomplishment is the P word that one should not mention in the presence of Rex. Let's just say that there was a pleasant variety of letters today.

@m&a, speaking of P words, nice magic trick, concealing the revealer, in your "At Least 55 Seconds of Fun" grid from yesterday. Wondered at first, why the clues were so strained at times.


quilter1 12:14 PM  

Got it but couldn't get to the blog until now. I started to suss the theme at the Amherst/Orono clue and the rest fell into place. Kinda silly in places but overall I liked it.

mac 1:01 PM  

I know Tige but have no idea how it is pronounced (this happens to me frequently).

I've only had squab in a Chinese restaurant, served in a bamboo cup.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:03 PM  

This pus was a real PATE BURNER. Victor Ba-roke us.
White flags, all around.

fave themer: A BRIDGET OOFAR. Bardot war flick?

weejects anonymoUs: 18 to choose from, none of which has just the right desperate sparkle.
. <-- real small tear

Wait, wait! This just in! WRITLARGE! har! All better now.
u <-- empty tear bucket.


Bird 1:06 PM  

Liked it. Liked the silliness of 18A and 61A. Took a while to run through WWII movies, but once I got this one the rest of the grid (mostly) went in. Last to fall was the SE corner. GAZEBO too specific (thinking town or village), didn't know the blog and couldn't remember BIG A.

G-SUIT berore ORBIT and SEAT before SEED (nice timing), all before I got A BRID OO FAR.

M and Autacorrect 1:06 PM  

PUZ, not pus. Day-um auto-correct. No wonder jet planes go missin, with today's technology...

Notsofast 1:10 PM  

Can a puzzle be a "doofus"? This might be a doofus.

okanaganer 1:10 PM  

@John Child; thanks for the link to Nadsat. I remember reading a book review years ago in The Globe and Mail (Canada's premiere newspaper) in which the reviewer compared the book to Clockwork Orange and mentioned the "made up gibberish language" that Alex and his Droogy's used. And I thought: "made up language? Doesn't this fool know any Russian?"

(But then again, I know virtually no Latin...)

foxaroni 1:14 PM  

Did not know a "-" clue means "continuation of another clue"(thanks @Milford). So, of course, the puzzle made no sense whatsoever. Didn't understand the whole "get" thing. Unenjoyable, to say the least.

I have been doing NYT puzzles for three or four years and have come to realize I will NEVER be able to become an adequate solver, let alone a superior one. :-(

John V 1:37 PM  

@foxaroni I have been solving for 44 years and I know how you feel! Hang in there!

Fred Romagnolo 2:15 PM  

I began to get a glimmer of a clue at Orono, then oil containers; eventually figured tanks and towns. Page turner and "A Bridge too Far were tough; like others wanted to drop far, then finally got the get bit. I'm too old to have watched kiddy tv in the 50's, but knew Buster Brown and Tige because of the turn of the 20th century comic strip (I was a huge comics fan in the 30's $ 40's). I think Jezebel is a nifty name for a feminist blog.

Fred Romagnolo 2:17 PM  

in "30's & 40's"

Lewis 2:39 PM  

@JT -- Thanks for the memory!
@johnv -- I must have missed it, what's the new Thursday look?

Speaking of quotation marks, in Across Lite, the clue to 61A is missing one.

I enjoyed the puzzle's free spirit, and figuring out the theme made me feel good. I too felt that lento should have more to the clue, unless this is a new change Will is making -- usually musical directions say something like, "in a score".

M&A -- see 21U (up)

jae 3:00 PM  

@lms -- TIGE got locked in about the fourth time I tried it with a Y first. Looks like we're in good company with the g-suIT erasure.

M and Also 3:01 PM  

@Lewis... rah! Speakin of Ups and Downs...

While we're here, I oughta mention that even tho this puz fought m&e tooth and nail for eons, I thoroughly enjoyed bein pummeled into a tan-colored puddle of sludge with a pencil stickin up out of it. QEDD.


Freddy Murcks 3:11 PM  

Definitely easier and more enjoyable than Tuesday's Thursday.

Carola 3:39 PM  

@mathguy and @lawprof, re: TIGE - Agree on wanting a "y" for the I, even though I remember the ads and have seen the word often enough since in crosswords to know the spelling. I think the reason "y" seems more reasonable is because of the hard "g" - the sequence "-ige" seems to want a soft "g" as in "oblige."

sanfranman59 4:15 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 17:05, 18:41, 0.91, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 11:14, 11:05, 1.01, 52%, Medium

Ludyjynn 5:34 PM  

I was a little girl when my brothers were glued to the TV watching Howdy Doody. Is it just me or was Froggy vaguely/deliberately obscene?! He creeped me out then and just reading the Andy Devine line today made me feel icky all over again. Fifties porn? Discuss, please.

Happier memory; every pair of shoes my mother bought me as a kid were from the Buster Brown shoe collection and featured TIGE on the logo.

chefbea 6:07 PM  

I remember the commercial..... I'm Buster Brown.. and that's my dog Tige!!!

LAneB 6:30 PM  

Never did figure out the "theme", but managed to fill the whole damned thing out, wondering why parts were nonsensical. Finished without satisfaction, slightly out of sorts and confused. But no DNF!a

Eugene T. Maleska 6:42 PM  

Sorry, I was dead. Have there been any messages for me?

Suzy 6:47 PM  

No fun at all-- really disliked!!!

Tita 7:30 PM  

Really liked this gimmick and this puzzle.

I had Buster Brown shoes - the only issue there was TIGE or TyGE.
THe ever popular GArden>>GAZEBO, gsuIT>>ORBIT.

The ASTOR Place subway stop has beautiful beaver tiles, a shout-out to how John Jacob made his fortune. He was from Waldorf, Germany, which is why the hotel is the Waldorf-Astoria.

@foxaroni - what @JohnV said. Do the puzzles every day. Come here every day. That's how I got to be this good!!!!!!!! ;)

Thanks ever so much, Mr. Barocas. Really loved how teh GET got different for every entry.

Andy Devine 7:49 PM  

@Ludyjynn :
Froggy plunked his magic twanger on Andy's Gang not Howdy Doody.

michael 8:34 PM  

Count me with those who liked the puzzle and didn't find it particularly hard (easy-medium).

Julie 8:38 PM  

Today is Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!
Fun puzzle.

Z 8:50 PM  

Three things on catching up with all the comments:

1. @Wa - There is not an exact translation of TAPAS into English, but starter/appetizer is reasonably close. Indeed, sharing starters at the bar instead of getting a meal is an activity at bars throughout the US right now as the NCAA tourney is going on.

2. @Alias Z - G-E-T doesn't need to be checked by a separate clue because they are actually included in the clues.

3. To whoever pointed out that they got JEZEBEL by inference - good point. That pretty much negates my complaint about it being a relatively unknown website.

Alby 9:23 PM  

Just found out that today is the 45th anniversary of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar's" publication -- and, in fact, that March 20 is celebrated as The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day in schools, libraries and bookstores. Synchronicity.

Ludyjynn 9:30 PM  

Thanks for the correction, @AndyDevine. So what's your take on Froggy?

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:01, 6:15, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 12:39, 8:20, 1.52, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 223 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:17, 10:13, 1.01, 55%, Medium
Thu 16:47, 18:41, 0.90, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:59, 0.99, 36%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:56, 5:11, 1.53, 100%, ΓΌber-Challenging (highest ratio of 223 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:26, 6:14, 1.03, 59%, Medium
Thu 10:31, 10:44, 0.98, 44%, Medium

Ellen S 2:29 AM  

Well, having trouble launching @Rex's blog (maybe he's uploading his Friday post, or my browser is broken; either is equally likely). So: @pmdm, I found a book of NYT Tough Crossword puzzles with that NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS puzzle. I've been nibbling away at it for about six months now. That puzzle, not the book. That's even after getting the theme! I will never finish it.

In other boring news, I got A Bell For Adano out of the library. Actually a good read, deserving of its Pulitzer, though I'm only halfway through and dreading the rest of it. The Allied occupation of Italy was repeated many times over the next half century and more: all the locals are the enemy and nothing good happens, especially to the women. And so it goes: Korea, Vietnam, what was Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan ... and so it went before WWII. Anyway, now I can spell the name of the town. (No, I don't care if I never get Motorhead references.)

manish sangal conceptsit 6:14 AM  

manish sangal manish sangal google ebs inc
enterprise business solutions inc
xceltech inc
Concepts IT Inc

Manish Sangal works as a Vice President for Enterprise Business Solutions Inc at Burke, VA The company's webpage is http://www.ebs-us.com. For email, phone number and executive profiles for Vice President and other executives of Enterprise Business Solutions Inc at Burke, VA, check Enterprise Business Solutions Inc at Joesdata.com. Not the Manish Sangal you are looking for? Do a quick search in our website and find other people named Manish Sangal.
About Enterprise Business Solutions Inc:

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Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Jezebel has 12 million unique visitors from the US each month. https://www.quantcast.com/jezebel.com?country=US.

Judith 9:17 AM  

The English have a catch phrase, He's so sharp/clever he''ll cut himself.
Clever? The Emperor's new clothes is what it is.

pmdm 9:17 AM  

Ellen S: Interesting. That Saturday puzzle was the one and only Saturday puzzle I have ever been able to finish without looking up some proper name in a reference source to get me going in a section of the puzzle. Keep trying!

spacecraft 12:22 PM  

I'm ba-ack. Great road trip, featuring a stop for In'n'Out Burgers (yum!) and a win for the Fightin's. Interesting puzz today.

You could write a whole nother book about whether ALEX was a pro- or ant-agonist--or maybe both, at different times. Cue "The Thieving Magpie."

I had a little trouble GETting through this, but eventually I got with it. Yeah, medium to medium-challenging seems just about right. Too bad the concept had to result in such choppiness.

8's full. Think I'll play some poker for real today.

rain forest 1:30 PM  

Liked it. What's new there? I actually found this a bit easy as I understood that GET was being played around with from the GETgo.

AFORE I go, lemme say that there was little that was DREAR (what's wrong with that?) here. No flags from @Spacey, so it has that going for it!

As someone up there said, a nice, professional job on this one with a different-looking theme, to boot. And EVITE, which is an actual thing unlike ezine, emag, enote ETAL.

I can't play poker because even if I deliberately get the capcha wrong, and click on the circle, I still don't get numbers.

DMG 2:35 PM  

Was truly puzzled until I realized the clues referred to the letters GET. Then it became a case of following directions. Sticking points along the way were GsuIT, not knowing who traveled with Boots, (but pretty sure Puss wore his), and an unknown blog. Happily, the crosses worked those out for me, along with the first words of a novel and a play. Who remembers such stuff?

@rain forest. I always play with the Captcha thingy first, looking for something I can hope to read. Usually the second try is a "hand", but once in awhile it can stubbornly keep me staring at things I can't hope to decode. That's why I always "copy" my comment before trying to post.

Full house, 9's over 5's

Dirigonzo 3:09 PM  

There was a day when cryptic instructions and blank clues would have doomed me to certain defeat, but either I've become a better solver or more stubborn because I stuck with this one until I got it all sorted out. Of course the presence of Orono helped URGE (I had iRon for too long)me on. I just today finished a book where JEZEBEL played a prominent role ("Skinny Legs and All" by Tom Robbins)so that helped with the unknown blog. It was written 25 years ago but remains relevant, I think.

The puzzle left me with this earworm.

I almost always draw a poker hand as my capcha, but they are seldom good enough to win with this crowd - today is no exception.

rain forest 3:17 PM  

@Diri - Years ago my son read probably all of Tom Robinson's books, and last year he gave me "Skinny legs and all" to read. What a mind, and what a book. I'll read more, I think.

@DMG I followed your advice and I also have 9's full of 5's!

Split pot?

Solving in Seattle 4:59 PM  

gsuIT went into ORBIT. iRon to URGE. WRITLARGE went in on crosses. That word should be TASERed. Assigned Victor a penalty stroke for DREAR. Ok thursday rebus.

@Rainy and I split with Nines over fives.

Solving in Seattle 5:03 PM  

Looks like a three way split with @DMG. Lots of nines and fives in this virtual deck.

BTW, @Rainy, played Chambers Bay yesterday. You should get there before the U.S. Open.

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

Just say to B.S. like this.

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

Good, good, good, good, good puzz, Thanks V.B. I worked on it off and on all day as there were many other things going on. The aha came with "college towns." The rest was Easy/Medium.

Ron Diego 4:30 PM PST 4/24

P.S. The above comment ???????

strayling 7:37 PM  

@Diri, this was a strange mutant cryptic, but if you enjoyed it I highly recommend trying the real deal. Search for Araucaria (even his nom de plume is a cryptic clue).

\ two pair? This game is rigged.

Dirigonzo 8:31 PM  

@strayling - a little googling reveals the Reverend John Graham and his cryptic crosswords to be interesting but perhaps just a little beyond my abilities (at least at this late hour). But how can you not love the Monkey Puzzle Tree?

sdcheezhd 11:53 PM  

Assigned was SLOT, then aha it's SEAT. I really wanted ORATA to be a word. It took me a long time to figure out the theme since the backwards answer didn't fit the pattern of the up and the down but then I finally figured out it was a GET missing/lost. Clever. I liked it. I don't read JEZEBEL as much as Deadspin and former Gawker site Wonkette but they are all good.

bltmd 9:24 PM  

First time poster- Easiest, fastest Thursday for me in a long while, figured out the theme with "get back", I have kids who watched DORA and read Eric CARLE and I've operated on the ADRENAL so that NE helped. This just worked for me, maybe after a year of solving these puzzles I'm getting the hang of it.

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